It’s hard to believe that the Boston University Terriers are now just three seasons removed from the John Holland-led squad that fell to Kansas in the opening round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. In the few years since, much has changed in Agganis Arena.
Dynamic players like Holland and Darryl Partin graduated. Jake O’Brien transferred to Temple before graduating this past spring.
Today, the Terriers are forging in a new direction and entering the Patriot League with a vibe of momentum thanks to head coach Joe Jones. The SUNY Oswego grad took over the program from Pat Chambers following that March Madness appearance and he has excelled mixing the holdovers from the previous regime with his own ingredients.
"We’ve brought in guys like [John] Papale and Mo Watson and Nate Dieudonne and Cedric Hankerson and we’ve been able to bring guys in that also fit," Jones said. "But my older guys that I inherited, I would have recruited those guys in a second if I could’ve."
But Jones, who arrived on Commonwealth Ave from crosstown-rival Boston College, believes that BU has been a destination for recruits for decades.
"It really hasn’t changed our philosophy and I don’t know if it’s given us a higher profile when we’re recruiting guys, I don’t know that," Jones said. "I think BU has always attracted and had great players. Always. For us, I don’t know how much that’s going to change."
Last season, Jones’ top four scorers consisted of two of his recruits and two of Chambers’. D.J. Irving and Dom Morris, two of the three remaining players from the 2011 team, averaged 14.2 and 11.6 points per game, respectively. Watson and Papale came in next at 11.2 and 9.3.
Entering this upcoming 2013-14 campaign, the program’s first in the Patriot, Jones also returns his next three-leading scorers from a year ago, rounding out a solid core that’s expected to wreak havoc in their new conference.
"I think right now we will be picked in the top half of the league somewhere," Jones, a former head coach at Columbia University, said. "Hopefully my experiences as a head coach in the Ivy League will help. It’s a very similar league in terms of style of play and coaching. I think the thing we have to be ready for also is that from top to bottom it’s a very consistent league in terms of style of play, level of play and coaching."
"You’re not going to be able to walk out there and just be better than someone. You’re gonna have to be prepared every night. You’re going to have to be prepared."
The Terriers will kick off this momentous season in their program’s history with a showdown with another cross-town rival, Northeastern University, at the TD Garden on November 10.
That budding rivalry—the Huskies defeated BU with a dramatic buzzer beating three-pointer at Matthews Arena at the start of 2012-13—is something Jones hopes will become a familiar feeling in his team’s new home.
"Hopefully we can create some of those types of rivalries in the Patriot League as well," he said. "Right now, I’m really concentrating more on my team, what I need to do with my team to make us the best we can be. That way, we’ll have more time to get ready for the Patriot League."
The Terriers will open their first slate of Patriot League conference play against Holy Cross on January 2.